Unlike the administrations of ex-presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, who borrowed on behalf of Nigeria only to steal the money, President Muhammadu Buhari takes loans to develop the country, claims the Presidency.
“We are borrowing for development, and that is the difference between this administration and perhaps others before it, who borrowed to steal, who borrowed to pocket (and) who borrowed to waste,” Mr Femi Adesina, the president’s media aide, said Monday on Channels TV.
His comment came just a day after the TV station shared a video of Mr Obasanjo criticising Mr Buhari’s borrowing spree.
The former president had condemned the voracious loan appetite of Mr Buhari’s regime, describing it as foolish and criminal.
Mr Obasanjo’s statement came in the wake of Mr Buhari’s request to the National Assembly for a new $4 billion loan.
“If we are borrowing for recurrent expenditure, it is (the) height of folly. If you are borrowing for development that can pay itself, of course, that is understandable. Then paying itself, how long will it take to pay itself,” Mr Obasanjo said in a video shared by Channels TV Sunday night. “But if you are borrowing and you are accumulating debt for the next generation and the generation after them, it is criminal, to put it mildly.”
The president’s other media aide Garba Shehu, last Saturday, listed 15 projects across the six geopolitical zones the loan will finance.
Mr Shehu said the president requested the Senate to approve sovereign loans of $4.054 billion and €710 million and grant components of $125 million for the projects.
Last May, Mr Buhari requested a loan to finance the N5.6 trillion 2021 budget deficit, as it looks to execute crucial infrastructural projects bordering on transportation, health, education, etc.
In April, the Senate had also approved $1.5 billion and €995 million external borrowings, which were part of the $5.5 billion and €995 million external borrowings sought for by the president in May last year.
According to the Nigerian Domestic and Foreign Debt Report, published this year by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country’s total public debt as of September 2020 is N32.2 trillion ($84.57 billion).